US electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Lucid has dealt perhaps its biggest blow yet to arch-rival Tesla, claiming its looming Air sedan will cover more than 800km between charges, potentially rendering range anxiety a thing of the past.
The California-based brand – with a proposed factory in Arizona – is citing independent verification from automotive engineering firm FEV North America that its forthcoming Air sedan set a 517-mile (832km) range.
FEV’s testing follows US EPA’s Multicycle Test Procedure for EV range. The EPA figures are similar to Europe’s Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), though the latter is considered by reports to be more optimistic than the EPA.
The Air, which will compete in both size and price with the Tesla Model S, briefly became the EV with the longest range before the Hyundai Kona Electric took things a step further in Europe later in the week, notching up a 1026km run with two other vehicles also eclipsing the 1010km mark.
The Tesla Model S Long Range was the previous benchmark, with an official 402 mile (647km) range.
Tesla boss Elon Musk responded to Lucid’s statement by saying the next-gen Roadster, expected next year, will have a 1000km range. For reference, Most EVs have a range of 320km to 480km with newer models aiming at around 650km.
Lucid will officially launch the Air in the US next month and said pricing will be just above $US100,000 ($A139,450).
The EV company, which started in 2016, is majority owned by battery manufacturer Atieva with a funding line from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund valued at up to $US1 billion ($A1.4 billion).
Headed by former Tesla engineer Peter Rawlinson – who worked on the Model S – the parameters for the Air were reportedly long range, a price tag of about $US100,000 and a 0-60mp/h (0-97km/h) acceleration time of 2.5 seconds.
The Air has a 900-volt drivetrain using miniature electric motors, integrated transmissions and race proven battery packs with Atieva having supplied battery packs for all cars in the Formula E racing series since 2018, with a contract through to 2022.
Despite its impressive feat, Lucid is remaining tight lipped and says it will not discuss specifications until the launch date next month.
Mr Rawlinson said range and efficiency were widely recognised as the most relevant proof points by which EV technical prowess is measured.
“A few years ago we revealed our alpha prototypes of the Lucid Air and promised over 400 miles (644km) range; a reflection of our technology at that time,” he said in a statement.
“In the intervening period, we have achieved a series of technological breakthroughs, culminating in an unsurpassed degree of energy efficiency.
“I am therefore pleased that we have consequently achieved an estimated EPA 517 miles of range whilst also significantly reducing our battery pack’s capacity, thereby reducing vehicle weight and cost, and improving interior space.
“Such exceptional efficiency, achieved through in-house technology, is undeniably a measure of a true EV tech company.”
Lucid was planning to unveil the Air at the New York International Auto Show in April, one of the many international events cancelled due the coronavirus pandemic.
As a result, the production version of the Lucid Air will debut in an online reveal on September 9, 2020.
In addition to the vehicle’s final interior and exterior designs, new details about production specifications, available configurations, and pricing information will also be shared.
The company is also working on an autonomous system for the Air; a LIDAR driver assist system called DreamDrive.
To market the cars, Lucid plans to open 20 retail locations – known as Lucid Studios – and Lucid Service Centres throughout North America by the end of 2021.
The first will be a studio at the company headquarters in Newark, California, followed by a studio and service centre in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles; and studios in San Jose in California, Palm Beach and Miami in Florida, New York City and Tysons, Virginia.
The studios will allow customers to have the option to visit in person, make their inquiries entirely online, or a combination of the two.
The brand is also planning a nationwide network of service centres, mobile service providers and certified collision repair centres that will be linked to a centralised customer care group.